What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This movie is on my list of essential films.
NOTE: This installment of Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies is not being done as part of a blog-a-thon. Instead, this is a monthly event hosted by MovieRob called Genre Grandeur. The way it works is every month MovieRob chooses a film blogger to pick a topic and a movie to write about, then also picks a movie for MovieRob to review. At the end of the month, MovieRob posts the reviews of all the participants.
For March of 2021, the honor of being the “guest picker” went to Paul of the People’s Movies. The topic is “Loners,” and for my money there’s better loner than “The Man With No Name” from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
The genesis of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is a treasure hunt. As such, there’s three main pursuers of the treasure…all of whom have their own interest and aren’t terribly concerned about anybody who gets in their way, including each other.
The is first Tuco (played by Eli Wallach). Tuco is “The Ugly” who is a wanted man with bounties on his head for a host of crimes. Tuco has a partnership with a drifter known only as “Blondie” (played by Clint Eastwood). “Blondie” represents “The Good” from the title trifecta. On the one hand, “Blondie” rats out Tuco for the reward money, but then saves him from being hanged. That leaves “The Bad” to complete the troika; this is provided by a character called “Angel Eyes” (played by Lee Van Lee Van Cleef).
“Angel Eyes” has learned of the existence hidden stash of gold owned by a Confederate soldier named Bill Carson, but has no idea where it is. As he begins his treasure hunt, the already strained relationship between Tuco and “Blondie” finally snaps, and “Blondie” abandons Tuco in the desert leaving him with no water. Tuco survives and is now intent on revenge.
Tuco catches up to “Blondie,” but before Tuco can fully avenge his abandonment, a stagecoach full of dead and dying Confederate soldiers appears…complete with the aforementioned Bill Carson. As he is dying from thirst, Carson offers to trade the whereabouts of the gold for water. But as Tuco goes for the water, Carson gives the location to “Blondie” and dies before Tuco returns.
Since Tuco was in the middle of getting his revenge, “Blondie” isn’t far behind Carson, but now Tuco needs “Blondie” alive since he knows where the gold is. Disguising themselves in the dead Confederate soldiers’ uniforms, Tuco takes “Blondie”to a Catholic mission run by Tuco’s brother. “Blondie” recovers, and the two continue their masquerade as Confederate soldiers. As a result, they are captured and taken to a Union prison camp. The twist comes in the fact “Angel Eyes” has followed the trail of Bill Carson to the same prison camp where is he is posing as a Union sergeant.
Now, Tuco knows the cemetery where the gold is buried, but only “Blondie” knows the exact grave. “Angel Eyes” tortures Tuco until he realizes the situation, at which point he proposes a partnership with “Blondie,” and sends Tuco off to be executed. “Angel Eyes” brings a group of his own gunmen, and together with “Blondie,” they set out to find the treasure.
However, Tuco escapes from the train transporting him from the Union camp and kills one of “Angel Eyes” henchmen in the process. Upon arriving at the nearest town, Tuco encounters a bounty hunter who has his own reasons for wanting revenge. As Tuco shoots the bounty hunter, “Blondie” recognizes the sound of Tuco’s gun, finds him, and restores their partnership. Reunited, they kill “Angel Eyes'” hired gunmen, but “Angel Eyes” himself averts death.
Approaching the cemetery, Tuco and “Blondie” stumble on a battle between the Union and the Confederates who are fighting over the bridge which leads to the cemetery. They come up with a plan to destroy the bridge; the idea being if the bridge is gone, there’s no reason for the battle to continue. As they are rigging the dynamite to blow the bridge, Tuco and “Blondie” share their information.
Almost on cue, Tuco double-crosses “Blondie” by charging on alone on horseback toward the cemetery. Tuco frantically searches for the correct grave, but by the time he finds it, he discovers “Blondie” has caught up to him. But before “Blondie” can kill Tuco, “Angel Eyes” arrives and holds both them at gunpoint. This is when “Blondie” reveals his own “insurance policy;” the grave to which he’s directed everybody only contains a decomposing corpse.
“Blondie” then leads Tuco and “Angel Eyes” to an empty patch of land in the middle of the cemetery. He writes the name of the real grave under a stone which he places in the center of the patch. A three-way shootout ensues, during which “Blondie” kills “Angel Eyes.” Tuco finds that his gun has no bullets; it had been emptied by “Blondie” the night before.
“Blondie” tells Tuco which grave actually holds the treasure, and as he ecstatically unearths the gold coins, he finds himself once again under the barrel of “Blondie’s” gun. Tuco also sees “Blondie” is holding a hangman’s noose in his other hand. “Blondie” then puts the noose around Tuco’s neck , fastens the other end to a nearby tree, binds his hands behind his back, and perches him precariously on a wobbly wooden cross marking one of the graves.
While it appears “Blondie” intends to take the treasure and leave Tuco to hang, instead he leaves half of the coins behind and as he’s riding away turns to sever the rope above Tuco’s head with a single shot.
The Hidden Sports Analogy:
In over 100 installments in this series to date, this may very well be the most hidden sports analogy ever. Not only that, but this may be the first time the theme from one movie uses another film to illustrate that analogy.
The first reason this analogy is far from apparent is because of the two movies involved. Obviously, the first is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; the second is another Clint Eastwood joint titled Every Which Way You Can. Other than the star, nobody would really think these two films have anything in common; one is arguably the ultimate “Spaghetti Western” while the other is basically a “B-comedy” in which one of the main characters is an orangutan.
To understand the link between the two, the first thing we need to do is expose the fact that despite it’s veneer as a comedy, Every Which Way You Can is actually a sports movie. The plot centers on an illegal, bare-knuckle boxing match between two mastodons named Philo Beddoe (played by Clint Eastwood) and Jack Wilson (played by William Smith).
Despite the illegal nature of the fight, it’s still boxing. Not only that, this event has the two main elements any solid sporting event needs; competition and fans willing to gamble on it.
That leads to the second strand in the bond between these two films. Be they “Blondie” and Tuco or Beddoe and Wilson, they are all on a treasure hunt. Whether its bag of buried coins or the purse of illegal boxing match filled with Mafia gambling money, both sets of men are out to enrich themselves.
But the deal-sealer here is the relationship between both sets of men. They are nearly identical. “Blondie” and Tuco rapidly oscillate between being partners and adversaries; they save each other’s lives on multiple occasions and nearly kill each other…exactly like Beddoe and Wilson.
From the first scene when Beddoe and Wilson meet, their relationship does the double-helix twist like that of “Blondie” and Tuco…which is really the DNA of both films. Wilson joins Beddoe during a training run; naturally he’s trying to gauge his opponent. But while jogging together, Wilson slips down an embankment and Beddoe prevents him from plummeting to his death. Later, Wilson provokes a bar fight in order to see Beddoe in action, during which he dismantles a guy who tries to stab Beddoe in the back.
Later when Beddoe decides to back out of the fight, the Mob kidnaps his girlfriend Lynn (played by Sondra Locke) to “persuade” him back into the fight. Wilson has a problem with this tactic, so not only do he and Beddoe join forces to rescue Lynn, they agree to call off the fight. But their egos won’t let them walk away without knowing who would have won the fight, so that’s exactly what they do. After they brutally beat the crap out of each other; Beddoe suffers a broken arm and Wilson gets hammered into unconsciousness…they walk away at the end as friends.
Cobble that all together, and you have today’s sports analogy which dove-tails with the theme of this event: loners. “Blondie” or “The Man With No Name” is the ultimate movie “loner;” he trusts nobody and acts solely in his best interests. There’s no better example of “loners” in the sports world than boxers, especially those of the illegal variety. Despite the fact Philo Beddoe has a family and a girlfriend, he’s still a loner because ultimately only he and Wilson understand their motivation to fight, which is why they respect each other…another trait shared between “Blondie and Tuco.
The Moral of The Story:
In a world full of “necessary evils,” money is still the root of them all.
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